How to get a Gloss Piano Black finish on MDF - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I have veneered enough enclosures over the years so I want to try something different for my little Sub project.I like the hi gloss black piano finish look and would like to try and duplicate it.Does anyone have suggestions as to how I can achieve this.I suspect that it will be time consuming and labour intensive but the enclosure is small.
Thanks Fred
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post #2 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 06:02 PM
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That's easy, but time consuming waiting for coats of paint to dry.... Any routed or cut edge of MDF will soak up paint like crazy.

Build up some layers of paint and then start wet sanding between layers. I used high gloss enamel. I expect a sealer would be useful to seal edges but I never bother.
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post #3 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 06:08 PM
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Actually a sealer is a very good idea for the FIRST coat ... especially any "open" or uncovered areas of MDF ...
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post #4 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, for the wet sanding what would be the recommended grit.
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post #5 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 07:12 PM
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If the MDF surface is relatively smooth to begin with ... then IMO nothing rougher than 320 then move up to 400-600 for the progressively smoother finishing coats.

There is some debate as to the method of sanding, and I can only recommend what has worked well for me in the past, which is to sand in one direction and try not to do the Karate Kid "wax on - wax of circular motions. I have found that its easier to detect concentric scratch (sandpaper) marks than the straight linear pattern ...

The process is kind of like quality auto finishing with multiple coats of lacquer paint with sandings between coats ... I can't say how many coats you will need ... that depends on how even the initial surface is and to what degree of "Lacquer box" gloss you want for the finished product.

Hope this helps :)
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post #6 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 07:24 PM
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I used 3 to 4 coats of sanding sealer first. Then sanded between coats before applying blk lacquer.
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post #7 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamIam2
Hope this helps :)
It sure does thanks.

Nick53 did you do several layers of clear over the black also?
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post #8 of 31 Old 08-08-2006, 08:29 PM
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Someone here or at HTguide has a link to the way he did it. M Newman documented his procedure in his Inwall speaker thread. I am going to try my coatings on some MDF sometime to see how it turns out. I did a good job with my military boots.:) That was about an hours worth of work.

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post #9 of 31 Old 08-09-2006, 10:32 AM
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How to get a Gloss Piano Black finish on MDF

Non distorted reflective image often seen in high quality piano finish isn't so easy to
do. Ordinary gloss reflective image [that is distorted] is easier to do. Primer, sand
{repeat}, then paint, etc. The substrate needs to be perfect plus the paint job
requires skill. I think it may be a good idea to try some sample pieces of wood
and do some experiments to see what levels of finish quality you can do before
doing the project and having it turn out bad.

The one variable that can mess your project is not having a dust proof paint
booth, even the cleanest garage can cause dust particles to settle on your quality
paint job and the results are not sweet.



The storm was gone, but dark clouds still hung around
The perfect setting for things to come......

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post #10 of 31 Old 08-09-2006, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thylantyr
How to get a Gloss Piano Black finish on MDF

Non distorted reflective image often seen in high quality piano finish isn't so easy to
do. Ordinary gloss reflective image [that is distorted] is easier to do. Primer, sand
{repeat}, then paint, etc. The substrate needs to be perfect plus the paint job
requires skill. I think it may be a good idea to try some sample pieces of wood
and do some experiments to see what levels of finish quality you can do before
doing the project and having it turn out bad.

The one variable that can mess your project is not having a dust proof paint
booth, even the cleanest garage can cause dust particles to settle on your quality
paint job and the results are not sweet.
Good point about the dust ,It might be an issue as the work will be done in my less than perfect garage.
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post #11 of 31 Old 08-09-2006, 04:58 PM
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I did my boots outside.:)

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post #12 of 31 Old 08-09-2006, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thylantyr
How to get a Gloss Piano Black finish on MDF

Non distorted reflective image often seen in high quality piano finish isn't so easy to
do. Ordinary gloss reflective image [that is distorted] is easier to do. Primer, sand
{repeat}, then paint, etc. The substrate needs to be perfect plus the paint job
requires skill. I think it may be a good idea to try some sample pieces of wood
and do some experiments to see what levels of finish quality you can do before
doing the project and having it turn out bad.
Thy has a good point, a normal gloss finish is *much* easier to do than a mirror piano black. The processes are the same for each but you need to spend more time in the finishing step for the Piano and you need to know what your doing with compressor and gun setup.

In the end you can get 80-90% of the results of a Piano finish in around a quarter of the time. As with everything, practice makes perfect of course.

This might be of some interest - I wrote a small guide on how I do a plain old gloss finish(not piano) here:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showt...141&highlight=

The results are pleasing to look at and the gloss is pretty spectacular. Here's a quick shot:

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-7/1050288/step5.jpg

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-...8/bassfin8.JPG

The results look better in person but the photo hints at the end result.

BTW: Spraying MDF requires a silly amount of prep work and primer. Do it right though and you get results comparable to spraying car body work.
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post #13 of 31 Old 08-09-2006, 06:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Shin for the link to the excellent guide. The results you achieved on your speaker are spectacular.
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post #14 of 31 Old 08-09-2006, 08:44 PM
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If I was going to try it, I'd use polyester resin with black pigment, and polish it. A base and finish coat should do it.

Noah
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post #15 of 31 Old 08-09-2006, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz
If I was going to try it, I'd use polyester resin with black pigment, and polish it. A base and finish coat should do it.
Noah ,Ive never heard of this but it sounds interesting.
Is it a two part product like epoxy with a resin and a hardener?How is it applied?
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post #16 of 31 Old 08-10-2006, 03:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz
If I was going to try it, I'd use polyester resin with black pigment, and polish it. A base and finish coat should do it.
Interesting.

I use a polyester resin to seal the cabinets, its a formula intended for hardening rotting wood and uses moisure trapped within the material to create the resin. Its absorbed very nicely by the MDF, after about a good few coats you get a film layer build up which indicates that the MDF has had enough and won't soak up anymore.

I think this particular resin is too hard and the gloss retention too poor to be of real use though. Maybe with some experimentation possibly...
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post #17 of 31 Old 08-10-2006, 03:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Habs4life
Thanks Shin for the link to the excellent guide. The results you achieved on your speaker are spectacular.
No problem, hope it helps.
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post #18 of 31 Old 08-10-2006, 12:26 PM
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"Noah ,Ive never heard of this but it sounds interesting.
Is it a two part product like epoxy with a resin and a hardener?How is it applied?"

Just to be clear, I haven't ever tried finishing a box this way (I've used the resin/fiberglass for other projects) but it seems to have the potential to be less time-consuming than lots of coats of thinner stuff.

It's what's used to make surfboards, boats, etc. It's essentially liquid Bondo, two-part, the resin and accelerator.

There are laminating resins which stay tacky for multiple layers, and "waxed" resins which cure hard and can be sanded, as well as curing agents to add to the former to make the latter.

Lots of info here http://www.tapplastics.com/

Noah
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post #19 of 31 Old 08-10-2006, 01:27 PM
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How to get a Gloss Piano Black finish on MDF

Buy a piano and salvage the wood to make your box.





/joke



The storm was gone, but dark clouds still hung around
The perfect setting for things to come......

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post #20 of 31 Old 08-10-2006, 08:57 PM
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Hmmmmm.....gets idea.....
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post #21 of 31 Old 08-11-2006, 03:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thylantyr
How to get a Gloss Piano Black finish on MDF

Buy a piano and salvage the wood to make your box.





/joke
My local online Piano retailer has all sold out!

What new craze have you started now Thy!?!
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post #22 of 31 Old 08-11-2006, 05:45 AM
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keep in mind that the closer to a mirror finish you get, the worse the flaws will look.

use bondo to fill in cracks and screws, and use a sander with a large flat surface.

soak the floor with water to keep dust down.

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post #23 of 31 Old 08-11-2006, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laststarfighter
soak the floor with water to keep dust down.
The missus would go mad if I did that to her carpet :D
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post #24 of 31 Old 08-11-2006, 01:04 PM
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Ive never worked with house-paints before, but I have worked with laquers on older cars. Even the cheaper laquer paint, you can hand-polish them out close to a mirror finish. But what I hate about this, every spec of dust shows. Every minor scratch, any area of paint not *perfectly* level shows up. I almost prefer a gloss white now, simply because you can get fingerprints all over, get it dusty/dirty... no one will notice.

To see what I mean, take a long cheap mirror if you have one, lay it on the table. Under the ceter of it, place something like a pencil/pen, or a wooden ruler. Hold down on one end, and push down on the other slightly. Even a millameter or two of twist or bending, really shows up.

That being said, MDF is even easier than fresh sheet metal, to get a good mirror-finish on. MDF is thick, and its not going to warp/twist/flex on its own while you handle it and build things with it. MDF is already as smooth and glass starting out, its simply a matter of properly applying many coats of paint, wetsanding, and polishing. Try it out, you can even get a damn nice finish with $0.94 cans of gloss spray-paint. Get some 800, 1000, and possibly 2000 grit sandpaper. FYI, 1000 grit sandpaper, the particles on it are supposed to be about as small as smoke. Even without wetsanding or polishing, properly applied paint should give a fairly adequate reflection.

Habs4life, you may want to take pictures along the way showing what/how you did things, and how it turned out in the end. Im sure many other members are wondering exactly how to go about doing this, a DIY/How-to guide from a newbies perspective would be an interesting read.

Producing the bass that blow out, cause power to go out. (UltraMagnetic MCs)
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post #25 of 31 Old 08-11-2006, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinobiwan
The missus would go mad if I did that to her carpet :D
I think she would be more upset with the black paint overspray. :eek:

laststartfighter,
thanks for the bondo tip :) It would do a better job than woodfiller.

abcdefg1675,
Thanks for the info. I will take some pics and if it turns out good I will post them along with a description of how I did it.
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post #26 of 31 Old 08-17-2006, 11:55 AM
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I have always had an automotive guy fill and prep like a peice of sheet metal block it out and use a building primer. Use two stage painting process and wet sand and buff, carefull of the corners...lots of depth in the paint
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post #27 of 31 Old 08-17-2006, 12:39 PM
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Anyone ever use that old hot rod enamel paint for speakers? That stuff dries very hard and can be polished very glossy.
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post #28 of 31 Old 08-17-2006, 04:20 PM
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:) The process is EXTREMELY SIMPLE...... If you are an automotive refinisher like me.

Seriously though, if anybody really wants to know how to do this, pm me, and we can talk over the phone, I'd be glad to help. But keep in mind, you get what you pay for, and a flawless finish is not cheap! Forget the house paints, forget lacquer & enamels, only one good answer, basecoat - clearcoat, period the end, no reason to figure anything else, because it is not as good. Sure you can mess around with cheap stuff, but it'll never rival anything you can purchase new.

Look to ppg in the omni line to keep prices reasonable, but even then you'd have a couple hundred bucks into it, and have to be handy with a paint gun, might as well buy a piano black sub and save the headache. Black spray paint is really cheap if you're not willing to do it properly.

I do this day in and day out, painting a sub is really no different than painting a car. Prime, sand, paint, cut & buff. I have yet to mess with anything in my theater system, but I do have some projects lined up for winter.

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post #29 of 31 Old 08-17-2006, 07:24 PM
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I work in the car audio custom installation industry and we finish MDF with high gloss paint frequently. The paint techniques are standard autobody, but the key to getting a good base to start from is a product called Polyester Primer. This material is two-part. There is the primer and a catalyst which when mixed in the proper ratio cures the product without air drying. The material is sprayed through a standard automotive primer gun. The advantage of this material is that it cures rock hard in a short amount of time, can be layered on quite thick and sands easily. We find that the product tends to solidify the surface of the MDF and soaks into and seals the cut edges easily.
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post #30 of 31 Old 08-18-2006, 10:04 PM
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hey folks, this is totally cool. I'm going to try it one of this days. Can we use brush though to apply the paint to the mdf or is air compressor and spray required for this project?

Thanks!
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